From May 2011
Though both the current superintendent of Corbett School District (CSD), Randy Trani, and past superintendent, Bob Dunton, have said they were discussing the idea for a Charter School for over five years, the way in which the Corbett Charter Association (CCA) came to be was a surprise to many in Corbett. CSD’s school board approved the CCA agreement in 2009 and as Mr. Dunton has written, it was “done in record time.”
The CCA board that negotiated the original agreement with CSD in 2009 included: Randy Trani (current CSD Superintendent), Charlie O’Neil (current CSD school board member), Bob Dunton (then superintendent of CSD) and the balance of the CCA Board were also employees of CSD ( * if they weren’t then – they are now ). Bob Dunton served as both Director of the CCA and Superintendent of CSD last year, leading into this year’s budget crisis. Bob Dunton is currently the Director of CCA while Randy Trani was appointed by the CSD’s board to the position of Superintendent.
Bob Dunton explained the Charter School in part as:
“… not your neighborhood school. In a traditional public school, the board is directly responsible to the voters. Charter Schools are different. It’s important to note the the Corbett Charter Association is a corporation. It conducts business. It is not a democracy. It’s not even a representative democracy. It does its business in whatever way seems best according to its own lights.”
Due in large part to an accounting error, CSD went from showing a budget surplus at the end of last school year, to having to hold an emergency quorum of the school board to place a three million dollar levy on the 2010 fall ballot. Without a clear understanding of what had happened, even by CSD board members, the levy failed.
While the size of the budget shortfall indicated a problem larger than a decrease in state funding, CSD continues to explain the shortage this way to the community. The CSD school board should have been more concerned that annual audits of the CSD listed a lack of internal controls and oversight in regards to how CSD’s budget has been handled over the years. At the least, more conversation was needed to explain how a surplus became a 1.5 million dollar deficit, in less than six months.
“Sometimes a crisis lets you do everything you have always wanted to do.”
-Bob Dunton, 2009.
CSD’s school board met in executive session in March 2011 and without public review voted 5 to 2 to approve an expansion of the CCA for up to 510 out of district students next year. ( * See this link for an explanation of how this vote actually took place. ) This number will account for over 50% of CSD’s total student body. Non-sustainable decisions and spending practices have ultimately contributed to our inability to survive on our own as a school district and if it were not for the CCA today, CSD would be financially insolvent tomorrow.
The possibility of losing our public school and going to a Charter school model seems more likely than rumor today. Randy Trani admits there would be benefits to such a move. The description of CCA above mirrors very closely the attitudes of most of our current CSD school board members already.
Please visit the elections information page here to find out more about your candidates for CSD’s school board and become a more informed voter.
The Corbett School District has an amazing and dedicated staff, some outstanding teachers, involved parents and community members doing extraordinary things every day for our kids. We all want what is best for them and for Corbett. I for one do not want to lose our public school for a CCA (Corbett Charter Assoc. ) way of doing things.
* NOTE: As of early 2012, Bob Dunton has stated at a Charter School Board Meeting that CSD is now ( again ) considering finding new auditors. Interestingly the School District is also changing auditors now. ( Select here to read the management letter from the Auditor that lists 9 “significant deficiencies” for 2010/2011 for the Corbett School District )